What is journaling?
The art of Journaling can be one of many things. It can be a free-form act where you write all or nothing about your day, right through to a religious planner that you use morning and night. Depending where you fall on the scale of free form to rigid control, depends on how and when you ‘journal’.
If you look up a definition you will read words similar to a diary, a list of what has happened, a record, that is periodic.
I started to apply the art of journaling to my life in a different way from that which I do it now. I started with just one thing every day for a week – in the morning I would write down what I could get excited about that day. After a week of that, I added in at the end of the day 3 wins I’d had (can be anything, big or small). Another week later I would assess why the wins were wins, what I could do to get more of that in my life and how I was going to do it. I learned this in a course.
As I got into the groove of recording these things, I naturally expanded this to include how much water I had drunk that day, how much exercise I had done and even started meditating after my workout so I added that to my checklist. My journal started to resemble a ritual, a tracker almost, to ensure I was doing all I wanted to keep myself on track. To hold myself accountable.
My version of Journaling
Eventually, I moved to a planner I found online (I went through a few different types in the process!). Although this planner is designed to be used EVERY DAY, with additional pages for weekly and monthly assessments, I use it only on weekdays. I use notes section for the habits I want to religiously apply each day. This planner has a section for the morning and one for the evening. I LOVE that it has a section for things that MUST be done that day, which I treat as my ‘to-do’ list. I enjoy ticking them off as I have done them. The habit checklist items I add each day are:
- Drink two cups of matcha
- Drink 3 litres of water
- Do a workout or go for a walk
- Study or work on my business
- Take my supplements (pills)
- Have a cold shower
This is what it typically looks like at the start of the day:
I can colour in the icons or tick them off my list, adding text at the side if I want to. I use the other note areas in my planner to record my wins. These days I list them only.
In the past, I have also recorded what I was grateful for that day and the lessons learned, which appear to be taken care of in my current planner. If you are interested in using the same one, go to the bottom of this blog for an image and link.
Doing what works
I find a more structured approach to each day guides my thinking/planning. Some sections are tougher than others to use and you may ignore them or think of adding something else in that place. It is your journal, you do what you want.
I began applying the art of journaling with a normal notebook, recording the simple morning and evening tasks by hand, even free-forming some notes on the day – like a diary – where my mind could wander. I naturally progressed to want more structure, to speed up the process. Now my planner is with me all day, open at the right page so I can stay on track and tick off things as I go.
There is a section in the middle that controls the time blocks in the day, like a calendar. As I have, in the past, used an online calendar, I have used the middle section to scribble any notes down I want from either a training call, discussion or other. This records things I want to keep, on the day they happened, and means I keep my completed planners for future reference. There is gold in those pages!
Journaling as a habit
When I started journaling, I would do it every day. I started to learn that needed a balance to my week, so I fell into a routine that worked alongside my day job. I now have a 5:2 relationship with my week. I am strict and controlling during the week (5 days) then at the weekend (2 days) I am a lot more relaxed and free-flowing. I miss the planner at the weekends, but I enjoy the break.
I can spend time being creative, catching up with family, cleaning, long dog walks, etc. For me, 5:2 is perfect. You may want a different mix. You may also want to be more relaxed with what you journal and when. You will find what works for you.
5 Lessons learned from journaling
The five big lessons I have learned through journaling, and the reasons I maintain this in my 5:2 process are:
- Using a pen and paper gives the content more power, it demands more respect and thinking time. It demands honesty.
- Defining dedicated time slots in your day to journal, ensures the ritual is performed and it can start to serve you.
- A good journal is like your ‘right hand man’ or personal assistant. It keeps you on track.
- You are accountable for whatever you write in your journal, only you can deliver what you commit to in those pages.
- Taking ownership of your day is the most powerful form of self care.
Applying the art of journaling
As previously said, journaling can be different things to different people. It is a very individual task and one I believe is related to your preferences and values. In order to work through that and decide what you want to focus your journaling on, take my 5 day reset challenge. It is a fab little programme written to help reset one area of your life over the course of 5 individual modules. It takes no more than an hour for each module and there is a bonus if you complete within 7 days of purchase!
Click here to get started.
The planner I use is The High Performance Planner by Brendon Burchard and you can purchase it online by clicking this image (for non-UK citizens, please use your local Amazon).